Football fan wins damages for false arrest

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The Independent Online

A football fan who claimed that being beaten by police had left him too upset to watch his favourite television programme, The Bill, won damages yesterday for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment.

A football fan who claimed that being beaten by police had left him too upset to watch his favourite television programme, The Bill, won damages yesterday for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment.

Paul Stevenson, 31, was charged with violent conduct after he became caught up in trouble when England were beaten by Germany in Euro 1996. The painter and decorator sued Nottinghamshire police after claiming two officers hit him with batons and he was bitten by Reg, the holder of the 1995 Police Dog of the Year Award.

He was so badly traumatised by the arrest in a Nottingham pub that he can no longer bear to watch any police television programmes, including his favourite ITV police drama, or go to football matches, he said.

The court was told by police that about 200 angry soccer supporters stormed out of the pub after England's defeat and that Mr Stevenson assaulted a sergeant, who was one of only eight officers on duty, by jumping on him and "kicking and swinging at him".

The jury at Nottingham County Court decided that Mr Stevenson was unlawfully arrested, although they rejected his allegation that the police had concocted a case to bring a malicious prosecution.

Mr Stevenson, of Bulwell, Nottingham, claimed that he was an innocent bystander and was attacked as he looked for his wife among a crowd of people who streamed out of the pub when the match finished.

The police dog bit him just below the knee and the officers attacked him with batons, one of them grabbing hold of his head and pushing his face down on to the pavement, he said. He was held in police cells for two nights and officers stood outside taunting him by shouting "woof, woof," he said.

Judge Oliver-Jones said the jury would consider today what damages were appropriate for injury to Mr Stevenson's legs caused by police batons.

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